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Some Post Game Thoughts

  • I'm gonna preface this post by saying I'm generally one of the more pessimistic posters on this board, yet I'm not too worried after yesterday's game. 95% of the reason we lost that game was due to a bunch of uncharacteristic errors that compounded when they all happened in a single game. Sure, there were a couple things that happened that I'm a bit worried may become a trend, but generally we lost that game because of our own foolish mistakes and not because we don't have the ability to be a good football team. I see it kind of like a math class. You can be fantastic at math and have the ability to get an A in the class, but if you make a few careless errors on one test it can really hurt your overall grade. That doesn't mean you're awful at math. It just means you had a bad day. We didn't magically lose our ability to win football games yesterday, we just laid an egg. Unfortunately for us, the BCS is a teacher that doesn't throw out our lowest test score.

    So let's take a look at the awful errors we made yesterday. The bad news is that all of these happened, and they all somehow happened in one game. The good news is that they're all uncharacteristic so we can probably just learn from them, hope they don't become trends, and move on. Past precedent shows they probably won't become trends...

    - Theo Riddick had a downright forgettable game yesterday. He couldn't catch a cold. I think he had more drops yesterday than he had all last season. And unfortunately it happened on offense AND special teams.
    - David Ruffer missed a chip shot. He missed one field goal the entire season last year, yet missed a 30 yarder yesterday. And it was in a must-score situation.
    - Penalties. And not just any penalties. Stupid penalties. Last year we were one of the best in the country in terms of being penalized. Yesterday we had 10 brainfarts too many. Late hits. Holding that negated a huge score (we ended up with 0 points on that drive). Facemasks. Etc.
    - Turnover margin was -5. I don't think we had a single game last season that bad.
    - We came away with zero points in our first 4 red zone visits.
    - All of the above somehow happened in a single ball game.

    The good news is we probably win that game if we get rid of just one of those errors. Get rid of the majority or even all of those errors, and we probably win by multiple scores. We doubled them up in production for God's sake. Unfortunately, there were a couple of other things that really irked me that could be cause for concern...

    - Brian Kelly's demeanor on the sidelines. He's supposed to be the leader. If the leader is calm, his underlings will be calm. The opposite is also true. I think he needs to tone it down a bit. I have no problem with the cursing and holding kids accountable. I do have a problem with COMPLETELY losing your cool. How is the team supposed to react to our head coach completely losing it on the sidelines?
    - Short yardage offense is still a problem. It was a huge problem under Weis, was a bit of a problem last year under Kelly, and was a problem yesterday. I personally think it's a philosophy issue. "You are what you preach" and Brian Kelly preaches the spread. Yet when we get into short yardage situations, he seems to throw out his bread and butter and go to a totally different philosophy. We run the spread for 99 yards of the field to great success, but then we try to run the I formation on the goal line. We use speed and misdirection to gain chunks of yardage on the ground while we're driving, and then try to play smashmouth on the goal line. Believe me, I'd love to shove it down our opponent's throats too, but it's NOT our offense. We can still run the spread from a yard out. It won't count for less points. Just ask Oregon (though maybe not after last night). They still run the spread from the goal line and score in bunches. Either way, putting three of our starting defenders (Calabrese, Filer, and Johnson) on offense for goal line situations just doesn't seem to be working. Go back and watch the tape. They were on the field for Jonas' fumble. Why? I don't know.
    - I hate to throw one single kid under the bus, but it seems to be evident that we need a new punter. Our current guy just isn't getting it done, and this isn't news.
    - We're thin at running back as it is. We can't be worrying about one of our two (or even both because they've both shown tendencies in the past) losing the football. They both need to be dependable.
    - Pass rush was not what we expected coming into the season. Tackling needs to improve a bit too.

    Believe it or not, there were plenty of positives that came from yesterday too...

    - Cierre Wood is becoming a big time back. He put up huge numbers even though we basically didn't run the ball for an entire half. He was also stellar in the passing game - both catching the ball and handling the pass rush.
    - When all else fails, we still have Michael Floyd to single handedly dominate defenses. Nice to have that security blanket.
    - Eifert is turning into a real good TE.
    - The defense played real well. They were only really accountable for giving up 13 points. Pretty good given the QB they were playing and the field position they faced. It still irks me a tad that Diaco plays so soft on the outside which sometimes allows for the opposing offense to dink and dunk us all the way down the field, but it's tough to argue with the results. They weren't dominant yesterday but they certainly held their own and played well enough for us to win that game big.
    - We found a starting QB. Believe me, I'm a huge Crist fan and was in his camp all offseason, but I don't think he's the guy anymore. Sure, Kelly did give him a fairly short leash yesterday but I think it was the right move. Dayne just doesn't rise to the occasion when things start going rough. Not what you want from your leader. On the other hand, despite probably having less physical talent, Rees makes plays when we need them. It's far from the optimal position, but I think we found our guy.

    At the end of the day, I wouldn't be too worried after yesterday's game. Generally speaking, it's always tough to take too much away from season openers. Just look at Nevada a few seasons back, You figure we wouldve been awesome after that game. We weren't. You probably figure we'll be awful after yesterday's game. We won't. Season openers are generally a crapshoot. You just hope to get all the kinks out and come away with a victory. We didn't. Oh well. I guess now we know why most teams play cupcakes the first week of the year. The good news is the other team really didn't outplay us. We lost largely because we shot ourselves in the foot over and over and over again. Once we learn to stop doing that, we'll be a good football team. Sure, we're not the dominant team we expected to be coming into the season, but we're also not awful either. I think we're very close to the same team we were in the second half last year. Our defense isn't a dominant force, but they're good enough for us to beat everyone on our schedule. Our offense is fine once we get rid of the foolish mistakes. This team can still win a lot of football games, just like we did after the Tulsa game last year. Unfortunately, we're still prone to having games like that Tulsa game last year. Hopefully we pull it together again like we did after that game. Either way, I won't be worrying until we start the season 0-3...and I don't see that happening. I'm still in the boat that this team can win a lot of ball games this season, but unfortunately it's an uphill climb now.

    This post was edited by IrishLAX2 3 years ago

  • well said Lax.

    Scored 4 touchdowns...in a single game. Polk High!

  • I think to summarize things, my major views on this football team didn't change after yesterday. We're a team picking up after last year's second half, and that's how I expect us to play. So instead of winning 9 or 10 this year, we'll probably win 8 or 9. You can't expect to see what happened yesterday happen again. We laid an egg. It happens. Let's move on.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by IrishLAX2 3 years ago

  • After struggling to re-watch the game again, I'd also like to point out we controlled the LOS on offense the good majority of the game. Pretty much every situation except for when we needed a yard. Solid job by our OL.

  • Physically, Notre Dame played well enough to win.

    Mentally, not so much.

  • Great post. Can't disagree with any of it.

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    God. Country. Notre Dame.

  • John, I thought you made a good point in your thread about the QB's. For whatever reason, we seem to throw more to Floyd when Rees is in. Some appear to be by design (those quick screens) and others just seem to be Rees using Floyd as a security blanket. I obviously have no problem with this because Floyd can single-handedly dominate football games. He just needs to stay healthy though. If he doesn't, yikes...

  • IrishLAX2 said... (original post)

    For whatever reason, we seem to throw more to Floyd when Rees is in. Some appear to be by design (those quick screens) and others just seem to be Rees using Floyd as a security blanket. I obviously have no problem with this because Floyd can single-handedly dominate football games.

    Rees' dominant performances have generally coincided with Floyd's dominant performances. Kelly seems to let Rees rely on Floyd when he is in the game. If Rees is the QB Kelly uses to get the ball to Floyd, then go with Rees. There is evidence that he can get the ball to Michael Floyd.

    When the ball gets to Floyd, Notre Dame's offense is at its most dangerous.

  • LAX, great post and I think you sum up the situation very rationally.

    POTW 11/9 to 11/15/2010

  • Great post LAX, good summary.

    Two time Poster of The Week, 2011 and 2013.

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    Irish legend CMC Quote Master and Director of Football Related Discussions 5 Time POTW & 2 Time WPOTW Winner Joined 09/17/05

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  • Lax, good post. Love your "glass is half full" analogy. But please bear with me. The biggest mistake the team can make is to adopt your attitude (btw - I, like you, see the good parts of this loss to SF). However, the TEAM has to take no solace in this loss. They need to feel embarrassed, shamed and beaten. Direct that negative energy into a re-dedication to focus on what each of them need to do to improve. We, as fans, see a good football team prior to the season. But a good team is defined what they do on the field. Not in the press, not on recruit.com, not on coach speak, not even on their own belief. Because it means nothing. The best coached teams don't care who they play. They prepare with the belief that they can and WILL lose if they do not execute the way they are coached and the way they practice.

    This loss, in my opinion, comes down to each player not taking SF seriously. Then, when they had a fight on their hands, they lost their confidence. This team personifies the football axiom that there is a thin line between winning and losing. It's the coaches and players who must embrace all 60 minutes of the game as if each play is their last. Play smart, execute, be attentive, passion with control. Knowing you're better on paper will bite you every time. Take one game at a time and believe you'll win but only with maximum effort - Physical and mental

  • IrishLAX2 said... (original post)

    I'm gonna preface this post by saying I'm generally one of the more pessimistic posters on this board, yet I'm not too worried after yesterday's game. 95% of the reason we lost that game was due to a bunch of uncharacteristic errors that compounded when they all happened in a single game.

    Agree with all of the above.

    Solid observations, Lax. Absent the bonehead mistakes, I saw much of what I was hoping for in a first game. The mental part still isn't there yet, but you can see them executing offensive and defensive schemes more confidently and effectively than they did through most of last season. I think they will only improve from here on out.

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    I may not be pretty, but I'm fast..... POTW 1/31/11 - 2/6/11

  • Agreed Lax...what scares me the most are the items that may not be correctable in time to have a good season:

    1. pass rush: rushing the QB is mostly about atheleticism (being strong and quick enough to beat/get off your block and have the athleticism to close on the QB and finish once you've penetrated). Unless the freshmen possess this, we're in trouble

    2. getting a push on short yardage (it's kinda me against you, and I need to win to get my guy through the hole). That's more brute force and desire than technique because the DLine knows what you are going to do

    3. punting (we need a new punter)

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  • LAX - Enjoyed your presentation. The D did play well and will get better. ND got beat by - ND!! Now let's get it right - beat Michigan!! GO IRISH!!

  • Great post, Lax. Sorry I'm just getting to it now. The one point I'd differ with you on is the criticism of the pass rush. I'm not quite sure it's fair yet. Playing that read option QB, I think the defense was being mindful of holding contain...even on passing downs. They weren't able to pin their ears back and get after the QB. We won't be able to accurately judge the pass rushing capabilities of this team until after the Michigan State and Pitt games.

    Until then, it's all about one word: contain, contain, contain. And they did a pretty darn good job of that on Saturday. Lets hope it continues against Michigan.

    My luck with the Irish: 4-5, 3-time POTW

  • NYDomer310 said... (original post)

    Great post, Lax. Sorry I'm just getting to it now. The one point I'd differ with you on is the criticism of the pass rush. I'm not quite sure it's fair yet. Playing that read option QB, I think the defense was being mindful of holding contain...even on passing downs. They weren't able to pin their ears back and get after the QB. We won't be able to accurately judge the pass rushing capabilities of this team until after the Michigan State and Pitt games.

    Until then, it's all about one word: contain, contain, contain. And they did a pretty darn good job of that on Saturday. Lets hope it continues against Michigan.

    Good points, NY and I agree with you. On second glance, I noticed a lot of what you noticed. Since they seemed to pick up small chunks of yards on 1st and 2nd down running the read and bubble screens, they were left with a lot of 3rd and short situations. Not many pure passing situations where we could forget about the read and just rush the passer.

  • Yes, it is the same team it was before the loss to USF. It still has the same strengths and talents. But it also has a self-destruct button I didn't realize it possessed. Such poor play by so many high profile players in important roles at critical times was -- I will be honest here -- ALARMING. This is not what you got with Ara or Holtz. It's what you got with Kuharich, Faust and Weis.

    I still believe in Kelly and in his and the staff's ability to correct much of this, but, that said, why then, did it happen at all? And while the frequency of mistakes is unlikely to be repeated in a single game, the problem may still remain. Even if the rate of miscues decreases, they may simply spread out over the course of the season at critical times against better opponents, when only one critical mistake can spell defeat.

    In other words, I hope this tremedously talented team is not already snake-bitten.

    This team can go either way. It needs to show the kind of improvement from week 1 to week 2 which Holtz always held was the sign of team capable of growth.

  • Good stuff, Lax. Now we get to see if Saturday was a fluke or worse...

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    ND '05 CMC Title: "Piper and Keeper of the Shoulders and Director of anti-CTNDfan activities" POTW for 12/4/06 & 10/18/10

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